The Hearing Loss-Diabetes Connection
Early Diagnosis of hearing loss leads to better outcomes
By Dr. Lisa D. Cahill, Ph.D., CCC-A
A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published by the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2008, suggests that diabetic patients are susceptible to hearing problems because this disease may damage the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear (Hirose, 2008). The study, which analyzed data from hearing tests administered to over 5,000 participants, shows that patients with diabetes are more than twice as likely to have hearing loss than non-diabetics. Of the subjects tested, 68% of them were found to have hearing loss in the higher frequencies.
Although this is not the only study demonstrating the connection between diabetes and hearing loss, these statistics alone should justify the need for persons with diabetes to routinely be screened for hearing loss. While the connection between diabetes and susceptibility to vision loss is well known, unfortunately the statistics of diabetes related hearing loss is not. The majority of diabetic patients do not mention hearing problems or ask for a hearing test and thus live with undiagnosed hearing loss for quite some time.
Hearing loss due to diabetes is typically a high frequency sensorineural hearing loss, or hearing loss due to permanent damage to the inner ear or hearing nerve. This type of hearing loss can be treated successfully with hearing aids. The earlier a hearing loss is diagnosed, the earlier it can be treated. Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can have a negative impact on quality of life, and conversely, treating hearing loss has a very positive impact on quality of life (Arlinger, 2003). Thus for individuals with diabetes, early diagnosis and intervention of hearing loss is key for preserving quality of life.
If you suffer from type I or type II diabetes, please consider scheduling your annual hearing evaluation with us now!
Arlinger, S. (2003). Negative consequences of uncorrected hearing loss: A review. International Journal of Audiology, 42 (2).
Hirose, K. (2008). Hearing loss and diabetes: You might not know what you're missing. Annals of Internal Medicine, 149: 54-55